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Toshiba's NB205 Netbooks start at $350, have sleep-and-charge port

Toshiba's new Netbooks are light, colorful, and can charge your USB devices even when shut down, thanks to a sleep-and-charge USB port.

The Toshiba NB250-310 Netbook can charge USB gadgets all the time. Toshiba

The Netbook arena keeps growing, but it's a good thing new features sprout up once in a while to keep our attention going. Toshiba's NB205 line of Netbooks are on their way to the U.S., in two different form-factor flavors: one for lovers of flat-keyboarded black machines, and a slightly slicker model with raised keys and bright colors.

What makes them truly notable notebooks, however, is their inclusion of a sleep-and-charge USB port. Available on other Toshiba models of laptops, the port can charge USB devices even when the Netbook is turned off. This is a great idea: it turns your dormant Netbook into a makeshift backup battery for your travel gear. It's a good thing, then, that the NB205 comes with a six-cell battery standard instead of a three-cell, because if you're like we are at an airport, you're going to use that sleep-and-charge quite a bit.

The NB205's specs are otherwise Netbook-standard: an Intel N280 processor (slightly faster than the more common N270), 1GB DDR2 RAM expandable to 2GB, 160GB HD, Windows XP, a 10.1-inch TruBrite LED-backlit LCD, and 802.11 b/g wireless. There's also a 2-in-1 memory card slot and an RGB port for display connection. Packed with a six-cell battery, the NB205 weighs 2.9 pounds. There's also a built-in hard-drive impact sensor included in all models.

For a difference of 50 dollars, two configurations are available, with Bluetooth available in the NB205-310, but otherwise identical internal specs. The NB205-210, priced at $350, only comes in black and has a full flat keyboard. The NB205-310 is $400, but has a metallic finish, comes in four different colors (Sable Brown, Frost White, Posh Pink, and Indigo Blue), and has a raised "chiclet" keyboard in the style of the MacBook. The touchpads in both models promise to be "laptop-size," and from the photos, they look more than ample.

The NB205 line is Energy Star 5.0 compliant.